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I’m dissatisfied

Dissatisfied - No Main Library consultants availabile in evenings and Saturdays

I am very displeased that the main library will no longer have consultants after 7 pm and on Saturdays. It is sad to have such a nice facility and not have expertise available to answer difficult questions for which the missionaries are not trained to handle.

Please change this policy.
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  • I'm not trying to be argumentative and I have no control over the situation, but we are an international organization that has placed an unbalanced amount of time and effort in Salt Lake City. Shifting our attention away from Utah means moving staff out of the library. Running with a skeleton crew, means the library can either cut staff service hours hours or ask staff to regularly work evenings and Saturdays.

    I would suggest that you try a Facebook or Yammer FamilySearch group for more difficult questions. If that won't work, you may have to find the solution on your own, come to the library while the counters are staffed, or hire a professional. I am not certain, but I believe a concerted effort will be made to train the missionaries to a very high level.
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  • Thank you for your reply. I am not trying to be argumentative. We were told that the library is very responsive to feedback and that we should provide our feedback on this. I was told that by cutting support during evenings and Saturdays, that this would increase patron usage of the library during these times; something that doesn't make any sense at all. I think this misconception requires feedback and hope that other library users will do so too.

    I am not convinced that this is entirely an effort to shift resources away from Utah and that it isn't just driven by the view that it isn't important to support patrons that come in the evenings since there are fewer patrons at this time. If you count all of the resource that are working on FamilyTree, FamilySearch, the digitization program, lavish displays at large conferences, etc.; it is hard to believe that a few hours of consultant time plays any significant role in the overall program.

    Further, the library is increasing the number of consultants that are available to answer patron questions during the daytime. Why not just reduce having 3 consultants available during the daytime a few hours, so that this expertise is available in the evenings and on Saturday?

    It is not only those that work that can only use the library during these off hours, but retirees also come at this time since there is free parking at these times. It also means that the Library will not have staff available in the evenings during conferences or when groups come from out of the State to do research at the library.

    The Library is the flagship of FamilySearch for both Wasatch front patrons and those that travel to be at the Library. In my opinion, it is sad to have this facility open and available and then not have anyone available that can read old handwriting, foreign languages or help with intermediate or complex research questions. Patrons do not want to wait until the next day or so to have their questions answered while at the library. Email, FaceBook, etc. is not responsive enough to have a satisfactory research experience at the Library.

    Yes, a patron can hire a professional during these slower hours to help them, but so can the daytime patrons. The Library has always taken pride in providing world class service, but I suppose this is no longer the case as I have seen the library expertise decrease over the last ten years or so. While the online resource expansion is great, it is still not adequate for doing basic research.

    While the Missionary training has gone from almost no to considerable training, their training does not approach the level of the full time consultants. They are only trained to handle the easy questions and to take patrons to the consultants if they require more help than this. As of yesterday, there is no more in depth training program for missionaries and they have not been trained on how to handle patrons when a consultant is not available. In some respects, it is a disservice to place missionaries in a situation that they are not trained to handle.

    At a minimum, the FamilySearch website should be updated to tell patrons that no consultants are available during these times and signs should be put up in the Library until patrons become aware of these changes.
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  • While not a decision maker, I was in the meetings when the library staff was re-organized and I can assure you that there was a large shift in focus away from Utah. As far as some of other programs mentioned, FamilySearch.org, the Family Tree, and the digitization projects all have an international focus.

    Wherever you hear that there would be more consultants during the day, there must have been a misunderstanding. All of the consultant groups were drastically reduced in size about a month ago, so I can't imagine the counters being staffed more during the day.
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  • While the number of consultants was reduced, the number of on-duty consultants during the daytime has been increased; at least on the floor I use and serve on. This was in practice yesterday while I was at the library, so there is no misunderstanding. Take a walk around the library and check it out.

    Thus, it would take no more resources to support the evenings and Saturdays. Even thought there are fewer patrons during these hours, it is hard to think that the extra consultant during the daytime will be able to help more patrons on an hourly basis than those at evening or on Saturdays. Until this week, there were only three consultants in the entire library on duty in the evenings.

    It is hard to see how this change in policy has anything to do with the shift to international patrons. With the same number of consultants, evenings and Saturdays can be covered, at least on the floor I use.
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  • As the Patron Services Manager of the Family History Library, I understand the concerns and appreciate the feedback. Perhaps I can share some additional information and clarify a few points. Within the Family History Library, we have made some recent changes. In order to serve a growing worldwide community, the expertise of our research consultants is now being shared with teams focused on provided enhanced patron services to family history centers throughout North America, Latin America and Internationally. To meet these growing worldwide needs, resources have been reallocated. However, in order to continue providing patrons at the Family History Library with excellent service, research consultants who remain in the library have been relieved of other responsibilities so that they can focus their full time and attention to patrons. In considering this new patron service model, we reviewed peak times at the library, and have staffed accordingly, offering expert research consultant counter help during peak hours. The staff change only effects 14 hours of the 60 hours we are open each week. Also, during the 46 peak Library hours, more research consultant staff members are out helping patrons than ever before. We have moved our consultants out from behind staff doors to assist at research counters and out on the patron floor.

    To help supplement the staff, we have reached out to the community and volunteers. There is a common misconception that only research consultants can offer assistance. Many of our missionaries and community volunteers are accredited and expert in their fields of research and many of these are available night and Saturday shifts. All of our 600 plus volunteer force donate their time and talents to assist you in your research goals. The change has only been in effect for two days, so we ask for your patience and understanding as we implement and refine the new patron service model. The Family History Library is open more hours, provides more computers, printing options, and professional help than any other genealogical library, society, or archive in the world. We remain committed to providing all of these services free of charge to patrons from all over the world.
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  • A journey to the Family History Library is on the wish list of many genealogists. Many of us remember our past visits fondly. We especially remember the amazing dedication of the staff, their generosity, their extreme and unfailing courtesy. They set an example of how a genealogist should behave, and that lesson has surely rubbed off on a lot of us. It would be a shame if this genteel way of approaching genealogy were replaced by a brusque, officious corporate-speak, and all the acronyms and excuses that usually tag along. If the staffing needs to be tweaked, that's fine, but please keep the Family History Library human!
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  • In response to Tamra Stansfield's posting, thank you for the clarification, but I am not convinced that you understand these concerns nor really appreciate them. If the volunteers and missionaries are as well qualified as you described, then I would not be dissatisfied, however this simply is not the case.

    I know of only one or two volunteers/missionaries that are accredited on the British floor and I am pretty sure that neither of these work during the hours where consultants will no longer be available. One of them may, perhaps, work a few hours on a Saturday once a month, but this is a far cry from your description. Further, we have been trained by your own staff not to refer certain topics to missionaries on that Staff's floor as their missionaries are not trained to handle these specific questions.

    While in general the missionary/volunteers are great at handling the easy to intermediate difficult questions and have made and continue to make a significant contribution to helping patrons, they are no a replacement for the staff. One wonders why the volunteers/missionaries haven't been properly prepared to takeover when consultants are not available before this change was announced.

    I personally will not go nor recommend that a patron go during these hours if there is a chance that either us may have a question that will take more knowledge than the missionaries are trained to handle. They will simply go away discouraged.

    I have been a missionary/volunteer at the Library for over ten years and I have a pretty good idea how things are on the floor I serve on. On the afternoon/evening I serve on, there was a room of missionaries that disagreed with the new policy when they learned about it. If they were so trained, then there would have been no complaints. It would have been nice to survey them and get their input before you placed them into a difficult situation.
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  • Dear Elder Jaffa,

    Instead of trying to communicate ineffectively through the internet, I am happy to meet with you and your zone leader to hear your input and to help you understand exactly what was involved in the decisions regarding the Library changes.
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  • Thanks for the offer to meet with me and I am willing to meet if you think it will be productive.

    The purpose of my posting was to provide feedback as we are encouraged to do and to let others know about the change, so they can offer feedback if they desire. As you know, the Library expresses a great desire to receive feedback and to respond to it. To this end, I think that this internet discussion is an effective way to accomplish facilatate feedback.

    I hope that the Library will also actively inform patrons about this change on the Library's web pages and also place signs in the library informing patrons of the change, so patrons can plan when they want to be in the library. (For example, when the library discontinued having a consultant on the 3rd floor, a sign was put up on the third floor reference desk telling patrons that the only US/Canada consultant available in the evenings was on the second floor. This sign needs to be updated if it hasn't already been done.)

    From your email, it appears that this decision was made without a clear understanding of the capability of the missionaries that serve during these hours, or plans to increase their capabilities to meet the patrons' needs. I admit that I probably do not understand everything behind the decision, but I have sat in a meeting where your staff explained it. I am willing to meet with you if you are as open to my feedback as you expect me to be to you; otherwise let's agree to disagree. If you want to meet, how about discussing this with the same group of missionaries where we were informed about the policy instead of just me? You can reach me at kjaffa@comcast.net should you want to pursue this further.
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